Anastasia Lloyd-Wallis

  “A strategy is necessary because the future is unpredictable.” Robert Waterman

As we come out of lockdown and move towards a more certain future, retailers are starting to think about what that future looks like, how have things changed and what do we need to do differently?

Retail Doctor Group Insights division spoke to leading retailers to understand how Covid-19 has impacted their current operations and what this means for the future.

Their responses were fascinating and indicative of strategically reforming change as a high priority items including:

  • 88% of retailers stated that they have changed their operating focus for the next 12 to 18 months
  • 1 in 4 retailers are saying they are spending more than half of their time on post Covid-19 strategy development

Showing the importance of having a clear strategic plan and steps in place to deliver this plan. As retail begins to rebound retailers must be armed with the tools to succeed in this new environment. The ability to draw breath and view their business from the outside is a crucial skill.

Now is the time to stop and think about what this means for your business, your staff members and customers. More adroit retailers are seeing this window as the perfect opportunity to understand how can we be running a best practice, what can we do differently and how can we optimise.

Strategy without insights it’s like surgery with a blunt scalpel. You need to have the data available to base your strategy on, to have key insights into who is your consumer, how they have changed and what does the future market look like and the results of our Retailer sentiment study showed this.

How will you ensure customers come to you?

55% of consumers stated they will change where they purchase their products in the future as a result of Covid-19, this may mean they are no longer loyal to their preferred retailer.

This changing consumer is stating that there are less willing to travel to purchase products and they’re wanting more local or simplified experience and are now utillising online shopping and click and collect increasingly as part of their retail experience.

So what does this mean as a retailer?  You need to identify your customer journey and look at how this is changed in the last three months. What touch points are they looking for? How did they spend their time during lockdown? Has this influenced their lifestyle?  and how can you put your products into their lives rather than expecting them to travel to you.

This pandemic has taught consumers that there are many alternatives available to them when their preferred products were unavailable. Product shortages, retailer closures and fulfilment issues has caused consumers to look for alternative products and solutions and this has influenced their purchasing preferences and loyalty to a particular brand.

We need to understand where our customers now spend their time, how they prefer to purchase and we can then use this to understand what our optimum omni channel strategy should be.

Putting products into our customers “new normal” lifestyles rather than expecting them to return to previous behaviours.

With 80% of retailers expecting that their store network will change as a result of COVID-19 it is time to rethink your physical store and ecommerce strategy and how this links to your customer needs.

How does each of your consumer touch points speak to each other and how do they each influence customers purchase. Does your website give customers a reason to visit your stores, does it drive them to want the instore experience and vice versa. Do your stores ensure customer centricity, making it easy to purchase products seen instore when home online or via social media.

We know that during these four months of lockdown consumers have increased their digital usage with the rise and rise of Tik-Tok, YouTube and Instagram.  Understand what other platforms may be available, that are actively utilised by your consumers, putting your products into their everyday behaviours.

60% of retailers have changed their store opening strategy, and 1 in 2 expect instore sales to decrease, as a result of Covid-19 and are now looking into alternative approaches to get their products to consumers and to grow the brand.

This solidifies the need to think about your omni-channel strategy to think about ties between instore and online.  It is no longer separate categories, they all speak to each other as part of your retail ecosystem.

To understand your consumers in detail, their emotions and why they behave the way they email

Have a look at previous articles written by the experts Retail Doctor Group:

  1. Time is the currency of retail
  2. It’s time to fall in love with your brand again
  3. The Post COVID World – why physical shopping rules